Vaccinations for India

How to prepare for your trip

Vaccinations for India

Vaccinations play an important role when planning your trip to India. Consult a doctor and schedule immunizations at least six months before going to India.

You will have to go to doctors specializing in tropical medicine because general practitioners won't have vaccines against tropical diseases.

Vaccinations recommended for India include:

  • Rabies
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid

Be aware that some vaccinations are only effective after a course of three shots, and if you encounter problems with side effects your vaccination schedule may be delayed. Don´t wait until the last minute to schedule your vaccinations.

Malaria prevention

Risks of malaria infections vary throughout different Indian regions. Infections are usually more serious in the south of India than in the north.

There are two possible treatments against malaria. In most cases, bringing a supply of medicine with you to India is sufficient. In the event that you develop malaria symptoms, go to a hospital for exact diagnosis. Symptoms include: fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting and convulsions. Never take malaria medicine without knowing if you are actually infected! There are other illnesses with similar symptoms and taking the wrong medicine might cause severe health problems.

If your stay in India will be brief, consider a preventative medication regimen. This is only recommended for high infection risk areas. Side effects are common and unpleasant, and you have to start taking the pills before you leave for India. If you decide on pills and the side effects prove too strong, your doctor can prescribe another product before you depart. This way your body has time to adapt to the new medication.

Dengue fever in India

There have recently been reports of Dengue fever in India. Symptoms may only indicate a strong flu at first, but your general state of health can deteriorate within hours. Strong headaches, muscle pain, joint pain and fever are symptoms of Dengue fever. Typically the disease is accompanied by a bright red rash on the lower limbs and the chest.

You should seek medical help as quick as possible if you feel Dengue symptoms as the disease progresses quickly and can be fatal. There are no vaccinations against Dengue fever available yet.

Be aware that taking Aspirin to combat a strong headache caused by Dengue fever will make your situation worse. Both Aspirin and Dengue fever thin the blood, and when combined they can cause internal bleeding. Consult a doctor about which headache pills you should use. Generally, Paracetamol is a good alternative.

General precautions

Most serious diseases in India are mosquito-borne. Protecting against mosquitoes is, therefore, the most important preventive measure you can take. You should have mosquito nets covering your bed and use special mosquito repellent lotion on your skin. Sprays for your clothing are available as well and will usually protect you against insect bites up to four weeks.

Stray dogs and monkeys are the second-most common source of infections in India. Their bites can cause blood poisoning and rabies. Infections can also be caused by little scratches from stray animals. If you are bitten or scratched you should go to a hospital immediately.

Basic medical supplies

When you travel to remote areas bring needles, syringes and dressing material with you. While the supply of medical equipment in big cities should be sufficient (and more importantly hygienic) this is not necessarily the case in rural areas. Whenever quick transportation to a city hospital is impossible you will be thankful for having clean syringes for shots or blood transfusions.

You can purchase this equipment from a pharmacy in your home country or also from pharmacies in large Indian cities.

Further reading

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